Roots of Evil
I have been developing a novel structure of concepts around the theme of ``the functions and responsibilities of the rational, conscious mind.'' Among these concepts are those related to roots of evil. I saw a book in the public library today that caught my attention, ``Hitler: The pathology of Evil,'' by Geroge Victor. He is apparently of the Jewish faith and therefore much less inhibited in his analyses. Here are some excerpts:
Why the pessimism of Bullock and others about understanding Hitler, and why the lack of progress after fifty years? Some difficulties in understanding him have been mentioned [My note: `his secrecy and deceptiveness' is mentioned before]; another is that key pieces of his story are offensive. That he was a sadist is accepted, but that he was also a masochist---equally important in his acts of state---is not. Particularly difficult is the matter of his victimization in childhood. For many people, seeing him as a victim--a figure calling for sympathy---is unacceptable. In addition, writers have been careful about offending Jews by suggesting that Hitler's anti-Semitism was linked to his identification of himself as Jewish. His ethnic ancestry was German, probably also Czech, and possibly also Jewish. No more can be established, but there is ample evidence that Hitler thought of himself as Jewish in the core of is being---in his ``poisoned'' and ``diseased'' blood. Still another difficulty in explaining Hitler is concern that understanding him may lead to forgiveness, to condoning actions of the Third Reich, and to weakening bulwarks against such destructive convulsion. Taking the opposite position---that understanding is the best protection against a repetition---an attempt is made here to give the fullest possible description of Hitler's personality in order to explain the destructiveness of the Third Reich. ---p. 9, Hitler: The pathology of Evil, Geroge Victor
By the time he was an adult, Hitler hated his father, and with ample reason. That hatred, along with self-loathing, ruled his life. ....
The idea of evil coming from a Jewish father also provided an explanation for Hitler's own troubles. Growing up with self-loathing---``rotten to the marrow'' were his words---Hitler found the cause in his ancestry, which he believed had poisoned his marrows. ... ---p.18, Hitler: The pathology of Evil, Geroge Victor
... The overprotected child gets limited experience in self-reliance and tends to feel weak, vulnerable, and defective---incapable of managing without help, dependent on others for rescue from predicaments.
The effects of devotion and overprotection were soon evident. Adolf was a bright boy, learning rapidly---the only child in the family to grow up highly intelligent, talented ambitious, or grandiose. He also grew up extremely insecure. ---p. 25, Hitler: The pathology of Evil, Geroge Victor
... The usual reaction of a boy who sees his father beating his mother is fear, an impulse to intervene, and shame about the failure to do so. As an adult, Adolf reportedly would have a recurrent nightmare in which a Jew menaced a woman and Adolf failed to intervene, feeling humiliated. Recurrent dreams come from a childhood trauma.
Frequent or severe punishment conveys to children that they are evil. Being nearly killed by parents conveys that they are unworthy to live. Adolf began to experience himself as evil and worthless---feelings he would describe in middle age and be troubled by until his death. ---p. 29, Hitler: The pathology of Evil, Geroge Victor